The novel begins in media res (in the middle of the plot) and then jumps back in time over 30 years. What do you think is the purpose of this opening? What is learned about the narrator (Amir) in this first chapter?
In the opening of the novel, the narrator asserts, “I became what I am today at the age of twelve (1). He is referring to a defining moment in his life. What has been the greatest defining moment in your life? How has it helped to shape the person you are today?
What does the narrator believe about the past? Do you agree?
Though chapter one is short, it introduces many of the key themes addressed in the novel. Identify three themes introduced.
In chapter two, the narrator gives a poetic description of his friend Hassan. What devices does he use? Cite specific quotations.
Provide your own interpretation of the narrator’s relationship with Hassan. How are they similar and how are they different? What does the narrator reveal about the dynamics of their relationship? Provide specific proof from the text to support your interpretation.
Using the Internet, complete some preliminary research on the following topics: Hazaras, Pashtuns, Sunni Muslims and Shi’a Muslims. What are their relationships, both historically and today?
Describe Baba through the eyes of Amir using quotations from the text. How does he feel about his father?
According to Baba, what is the only real sin? Explain.
What is Amir’s favourite past time and how does it affect his relationship with his father?
“Children aren’t colouring books. You don’t get to fill them in with your favourite colours.” (23). Who is the speaker of this quotation, what is its context and significance to the novel?
Both Baba and Ali, and Amir and Hassan have complicated relationships. Explain why their “friendships” are so conflicted providing specific quotations from the text.
Amir’s low self-confidence makes him crave control. Provide two examples of this in the chapter.
Define irony. In addition to the irony embodied in Amir’s story, identify one other example of irony in the chapter.
What interrupts Amir and Hassan’s discussion of the story? What changes as a result of this event?
Who is Assef? Describe him.
Who does Assef consider a “great leader” and why does he believe this?
Hassan comes to the rescue and stands up to Assef. Are you surprised? How do you think Amir feels about Hassan’s brave actions?
Who is the Indian man in the brown suit that Baba brings for Hassan’s birthday?
“By the following winter, it was only a faint scar. Which was ironic. Because that was the winter that Hassan stopped smiling” (50). What literary device is this and what is its effect?
1. Amir compare kite running to “going to war” (53). Describe the tradition of kite running and explain this comparison.
Why is winning the kite flying contest so important to Amir? What does it mean to him?
Provide your own interpretation of each of the dreams/memories that Amir recalls in this chapter.
When Amir comes upon Hassan, Assef, Wali and Kamal in the alley, what are his options? What does he choose to do? Why?
Amir states, “It was the look of the lamb” (81). Explain the symbolism associated with the lamb.
Amir explains he “actually aspired to cowardice”. Why? What does he mean by this?
Hassan chooses not to discuss what happens in the alley with Amir? Why do you think he does this?
Why does Amir no longer want anything to do with Hassan? Why does avoiding Hassan not help Amir feel better?
What is Baba’s reaction to Amir’s question concerning a change of servants? Why is this significant?
Amir observes that Hassan now looks “old”. How is this physical change symbolic?
Explain the significance of the pomegranate scene. What does Amir hope it will prove and what does it prove in the end?
What secret does Rahim Khan share with Amir at his birthday party? What is the moral at the end of his story?
Amir continues to struggle with his conscience. What brutal reminders of the past present themselves at his party?
What do Amir’s birthday gifts represent for him?
What decision does Amir come to as a result of Rahim Khan’s story? Why? How does he accomplish his goal?
Why does Hassan confess to the thefts?
Why does Ali insist that he and Hassan leave even after Baba grants his forgiveness?
What is Baba’s reaction to Ali and how does it affect Amir?
How is weather used to mirror emotion in this chapter?
How much time has passed since Ali and Hassan left? How has daily life for Amir changed in this time?
Describe Baba’s reaction to the Russian soldier’s demands for the young mother. What is Amir’s reaction to Baba’s bravery? How is it significant to the novel?
When the truck finally stops, Kamal is dead. Do you feel pathos for Kamal? Explain.
Compare and contrast Kamal’s father and Baba at the end of the chapter.
How does Baba feel about his new homeland? How has his life changed?
Why does Baba stay regardless of his misery?
What does Amir decide to major in at college? What is Baba’s reaction and how does it impact Amir’s final decision?
Explain the metaphors for Kabul and America found of page 144.
Describe the flea market culture that Baba and Amir have become a part of.
“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime” (150). Provide the speaker, context and larger significance of this quotation.
What is “yelda” and how does it apply to Soraya?
The words nang and namoos are repeated. What do they mean and how are they significant?
Why does Amir need to be so cautious in approaching Soraya?
How do Soraya’s mother and father react to Amir’s frequent visits and advancements?
What is the doctor’s diagnosis and prognosis for Baba? Contrast the reactions of Baba and Amir to the news.
What is the “last fatherly duty” that Amir requests of Baba?
What does Amir learn about Soraya’s past and what is his reaction?
Summarize at least 3 aspects of the Afghan courting process and/or wedding ceremony that you find interesting. How are they similar or different from Western traditions?
What does Baba put Soraya up to and why is it so significant?
What does Amir realize about himself in his father’s death?
Soraya’s family become Amir’s new family. What holes in his life are they able to fill?
Why does Amir ask Khala Jamila not to do nazr for him?
How does Amir rationalize him and Soraya’s inability to have children and her unwillingness to adopt?
Where is Amir going? Why?
What does Rahim Khan say that makes Amir realize he knows more than he has let on?
Why did Rahim Khan not go to America?
Where has he been and what has he endured during this time?
Why has he called Amir to Afghanistan?
Where did Rahim Khan find Hassan?
What changes had occurred in Hassan since the last time Rahim Khan had seen him?
How did Ali die?
How does Hassan first react when Sanaubar returns? How does this change?
Who does Hassan name his son after?
What was Hassan’s initial reaction to the Taliban? Was it justified?